As this picture shows, the federal government spends more on healthcare than on national defense, education, and welfare benefits combined. The rising cost in healthcare will drive this state and country bankrupt. The Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, requires everybody to have health insurance. It does not address the obscenely high and rising costs of healthcare. Here's how we fix it:
- Negotiate Lower Prices - Medicare cannot negotiate with drug companies and must pay whatever they charge. Taxpayers are footing this $100 billion dollar bill annually. On the other hand, the Department of Veterans Affair can negotiate drug prices and pay about half of what Medicare pays.
- Free Trade of Pharmaceuticals - Americans pay the most for prescription drugs because Congress has given the pharmaceutical industry has a legal monopoly. Allow patients to buy drugs outside of this country will drastically lower costs.
- Reimburse End of Life Planning - Doctors have the privilege of dying a better death than the rest of the population. Less than 5% of doctors choose to receive CPR at the end of their life compared to 69% of the general population. Medicare and insurance companies need to reimburse end of life planning so patients can make informed decisions for themselves. In addition to being the ethically right thing to do, one quarter of all Medicare dollars are spent on the last year of life.
- Publish Prices and Quality Indicators - Hospitals often cannot quote prices of procedures. In order for patients to have choices, there must be transparency of both cost and quality. Patient should have access to outcome data like rates of infection. We also need transparency from the health insurance perspective. If a man falls off a ladder and hits his head on the ground, will his insurance pay for an MRI scan of his brain? Neither the doctors, nor the hospital, nor the patient knows the answer. Until the coverage rules are simple and clear, insurance companies will continue to take advantage of both patients and doctors.
- Universal Standard for EMRs - Patients should have the ability to choose where they get their care by being able to easily transport their medical records. The vast majority of hospitals are using electronic medical records (EMRs). These systems must be able to communicate with one another, just as cell phones made by different manufacturers on different carriers can talk to each other. This reduce duplicated tests and speed up delivery of care.
- Tort Reform - It’s not so much that doctors are getting sued every day, but the fear of lawsuits results in extraneous testing and impairs the doctor-patient relationship. We need to reform the tort system such that doctors can be sued for negligence but not for bad outcomes. Surgery carries with it certain risks and in today's world, lawyers are suing if the results aren't perfect. This needs to change.
- Repeal SGR - Obamacare was supposed to repeal planned cuts to Medicare known as Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) but it never happened. Because this problem was not fixed, there will be a 27.4% cut in Medicare reimbursement rates next year. When that happens, reimbursements will not cover operating costs of running a practice and doctors will lose money on accepting Medicare, effectively ending healthcare for millions of senior citizens. This has now become a $116.5 billion dollars over 10 years problem and it is only getting worse with time.
There are seven different Emergency Departments within a three mile radius in Providence, :
- Rhode Island Hospital
- The Miriam Hospital
- Women and Infants Hospital of Rhode Island
- Hasbro Children's Hospital
- Providence VA Medical Center
- Roger Williams Medical Center
- Our Lady of Fatima Hospital
Workers who pay into Social Security through their working life deserve:
- Guarantee that Americans who work and pay into the system receive benefits based on what they earn and contribute
- Benefits that keep up with inflation and last for as long as an individual lives
- Strengthening Social Security for the future and protect benefits for people who count on them most, including surviving spouses and families, lower-wage workers, and disabled individuals who no longer can work
- Social Security must be put on stable financial ground, but any adjustments should be implemented gradually so changes do not impact those in or near retirement